TRACK STATS

, 15 Aug 2016

Pierre-Jean Vazel breaks down the South African's race in Rio.

, 14 Aug 2016

Try as they might to stop him, Mo reigns supreme in the Rio 10,000m final.

, 27 Aug 2015

See how the South African's world championship run in Beijing compares to Johnson's world record.

, 20 Aug 2016

Lalova may have finished last in the women's 200m final, but did manage the fast reaction time of any sprinter in any final.

, 14 Oct 2016

One of Britain's finest athletes has hung up her spikes.

, 4 May 2017

Will Dibaba's debut 800m in Doha push Semenya to a new level?

, 12 Apr 2017

Eight fantasy teams do battle in our latest chart.

, 21 Aug 2016

Semenya proved her total dominance over the field in Rio—and she could still go faster.

, 24 Mar 2017

Most indoor performers will improve outdoors, but it might be the slowest 400m runners who have the most to gain.

, 18 Mar 2017

The Rio silver medalist sends a message to his rivals, but can he deliver when it matters?

, 4 May 2017

Will Dibaba's debut 800m in Doha push Semenya to a new level?

, 3 May 2017

If you want the glory of a fast time, don't go on the first leg.

, 12 Apr 2017

Eight fantasy teams do battle in our latest chart.

Rio 2016 charts sprints Diamond League splits Beijing 2015 400m sponsors world records prize money relays heptathlon indoors 800m decathlon trends rankings Dibaba field nations long distances steeplechase

Van Niekerk was on for the record at 300m

See how the South African's world championship run in Beijing compares to Johnson's world record.
27 Aug 2015

This post is from the 2015 world championships in Beijing. For van Niekerk’s world record splits in Rio, see here.

“What was his 200 split?” was the question flying around after Wayde van Niekerk led the whole 400m final and won the World title in the startling time of 43.48. The answer is that the South African set World Best splits at 200 and 300m: 20.7 and 31.4.

The stagger around the track and the sometimes deceptive TV angle views call for a time analysis to get a clearer idea of the evolution of 400m races. So here are the 100m intermediate times for each finalist, from 30 fps video analysis, using several views for each 100m checkpoint of the lap.

These are electronic times rounded to the nearest tenth, since the low frame rate doesn’t allow publishing times to the 100th. For example, van Niekerk’s 300m time was in the 31.3 high ranges and rounded up to 31.4***. Caution: don’t use the screen clock displayed on the TV broadcasts, it’s not always synchronised with the pictures! For Beijing, the delay was 0.4, as the clock showed 31.0 as van Niekerk passed over the 300m check point.

For comparison, Michael Johnson set the current World record with the following pace: 11.10 at 100m, 21.22 at 200m, 31.66 at 300m. That’s relatively slow for someone whose 200m personal best (and then world record) is 19.32.

van Niekerk vs Johnson

For van Niekerk, whose 200m season best is 19.94 (probably worth 0.1 or 0.2 tenths faster by now), 20.7 is not that quick. About one second is the usual difference for elite 400m runners. However, at 300m he ran faster than his African Best (31.63) and his 31.4 would rank him 4th on the open 300m all-time list behind Michael Johnson (30.85), Usain Bolt (30.97) and LaShawn Merritt (31.30).

In Beijing, four men were faster that the world record pace at 100m and 200m, and with 100m to go, van Niekerk and Merritt were still under MJ’s record. The fastest ever first 100m ever recorded is 10.6 by Tyson Gay during a 45.05 race in 2010, faster than van Niekerk’s 10.8, however the South African now tops the list at 200m and 300m intermediate times. The question now is whether he can put together a race over the whole distance and take the world record.

Footnotes: Brown’s time is slightly different from what was released just after that race, but I used the corrected figures published by the biomechanical team in its latest report. Most times come from video analysis, but the other sources used here are: 11th World Championships, performance and technique of World Class Athletes, Report of the JAAF biomechanics team (2010); The History of the US Olympic Trials, Richard Hymans (2008); La Fabuleuse Histoire de l’athlétisme, Robert Parienté (1978); Athletics 1996, ATFS Annual, Peter Matthews ed. (1996).

***Pierre-Jean has been able to provide a more precise 300m split for van Niekerk following the original publication of this article. He went through 300m in 31.36 (Merritt 31.63). The top intermediate splits table has been updated to reflect this.

View all charts

Longest-lasting world records

Diamond League Prize Money 2016

Rio 2016: event profiles

<

, 3 May 2017

What do 400m relay splits really mean?

If you want the glory of a fast time, don't go on the first leg.

, 24 Mar 2017

How much will a quarter miler improve outdoors?

Most indoor performers will improve outdoors, but it might be the slowest 400m runners who have the most to gain.

, 21 Aug 2016

Women’s 800m splits: negative split for Semenya

Semenya proved her total dominance over the field in Rio—and she could still go faster.

, 20 Aug 2016

Women’s 5000m splits: Ayana fails to break the Kenyans

The 10,000m Olympic champion didn't have it her own way in the 5000m as Cheruiyot emerges victorious.

, 16 Aug 2016

Splits: 800m men’s final

Sometimes fortune favours the brave, but Kipketer's opening 23.2 200m in the Rio final just made him look a bit silly.

, 15 Aug 2016

How van Niekerk broke the 400m world record

Pierre-Jean Vazel breaks down the South African's race in Rio.